How can you contribute to making your Children’s Days Truly Happy?

children's day“Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.” –Walt Disney

Aptly put by Walt Disney, the above quote clearly defines the core of good parenting. Being a good parent does not mean protecting your children from every hurdle they may stumble upon, instead, it requires you to step aside and make your children independent enough to tackle their problems themselves, coming to you only for help and guidance. However, this stepping aside has to happen gradually, in alignment with a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development.

A child’s development takes place in four stages: infancy, pre-school, middle school and adolescence. Besides the physical and mental growth, these stages also facilitate the growth of the parent-child relationship. With each stage, there is a change in the way children look up to their parents. For a healthy parent-child relationship, it is very essential for parents to change their outlook towards their children as and when required. For example, an infant will require the presence of its parents most of the time, whereas an adolescent will expect privacy from his/her parents. It is necessary for parents to give their children what they need at a given time. However, it doesn’t mean sitting by an infant 24×7 or having no clue about your adolescent’s whereabouts. That is equally unhealthy. While the former will grow into a highly dependent individual, the latter, most often, leaves you with a “spoilt brat”.

Remember, children are highly influenced by their surroundings. Hence, providing a healthy environment for the child is as important as giving it food. A house with very strict restrictions will lead to the child breaking rules, a household which survives on conflict and constant quarrelling will give rise to child having an aggressive behaviour, a pampered kid will always remain a “mama’s boy”, an ignored child will thrive for acceptance and fall victim to bouts of self-doubts. However, a child who is given adequate love, encouraged to follow his dreams, brought up in a family with healthy relations and taught to deal with his own problems will succeed with flying colours.

A classic example of childhood environment affecting adult behaviour is the English TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S. We have a great variety of characters having very different childhood experiences, in a way affecting their adult behaviour all the same. There is Ross, the pampered kid, who thinks he is the best at everything; Monica, extensively ignored and bullied as a child, who strives for acceptance from her parents; Chandler, who saw his parents split up when he was merely 9 years, thrashing all his beliefs in love, and making him afraid of commitments; and finally Rachel, who was brought up with so much pampering that she turned out highly dependent on her father for almost everything. Well, these guys met each other and made their lives into a ‘happily ever after’ by helping each other. But it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that no child goes through such a harsh childhood.

This Children’s Day, let’s take a step towards understanding the needs of our children and providing a healthy environment for their growth.

HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY!!

SCIENCE & SUPERSTITION

howsuperstitUNESCO has declared 10th November as ‘World Science Day’ with a goal of highlighting the importance of science in society and engaging the wider public in discussing contemporary issues related to science. The Indian Constitution has included the development of Scientific Temper as a fundamental duty of every citizen.

Today, after so many years since the establishment of our Constitution and despite the enormous increase in educational facilities in India, the burning question remains, “have we really developed a scientific outlook in our daily lives?” The answer is definitely a NO. Why am I being so certain in my answer, you ask? Think about it… almost all of us get really freaked out if a black cat cuts our path while on our way to work. To top it, if you have an important meeting scheduled, you will be almost certain that it won’t go as planned.

This is just one of the many superstitions that we are conditioned to believe in, probably, from the day we are born! There might have been a reason as to why our forefathers held a strong belief in them, but today, with the advancement of science, these beliefs just sound ridiculous and make absolutely no sense. Moreover, these beliefs stand as a major hurdle in the completion of our day-to-day activities. Considering the previous example, just the thought that the meeting won’t go as planned will hamper your performance, actually leading to a bad meeting. This acts as a reinforcer, strengthening your belief in that superstition. Given a careful consideration, you will realize that it wasn’t the cat but you who were actually responsible for the failed meeting.

Superstitions act as an external locus of control, making them a very reliable source to blame, rather than acknowledging our own mistakes. Evidently, this hampers the development of the individual as well as the society. Thus, it becomes extremely important to develop a scientific temper and knowing where to draw the line between logic and belief.

The first step towards having a scientific outlook is to develop skepticism, i.e. inculcating the habit of questioning things, making sense of it, and then deciding if it is a reliable piece of information instead of blindly accepting it as a fact. It also requires you to have an open mind and welcome constructive criticisms and suggestions, thinking of it as a scope for development, accepting them and working on them. An essential tool for a scientific mindset is to accept the fact that there are infinite perspectives to any given situation and every individual is free to accept the one that aligns with his/her line of thought. Forcing your opinions on others or accepting others’ opinions just to be a part of the majority should never be an option.

‘Scientific thought and its creation is the common and shared heritage of mankind.’ This World Science Day, let’s make a pledge to live by these words of Abdus Salam, a famous theoretical physicist, and start by taking small baby steps towards inculcating scientific temper in our daily life.

Friendship Day Special

Friends come in all shapes and sizes! 😊 Some of us have so many friends that we do not bother keeping count, while some may have a handful of close friends, and some others may have just that one friend. We may have some friends since childhood, some that come in at different walks of life and move on, some that we have a good time with, some that we share our hearts with…

All of this is known to us, so what is the point of this post, do you ask?

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The point is – how many of us have a ‘Kalyan Mitr’? A friend who is a well-wisher in the true sense of the word, the literal translation of this Hindi word is ‘wellbeing friend’. A Kalyan Mitr is someone who only wants the best for you, and will have no qualms about standing up against everyone, and sometimes even against you, in order to help you see the bigger picture, for your wellbeing. The friend could be a family member, a cousin or a colleague, but is a friend above all! Here’s a quick checklist for you to assess whether you have a friend who falls into the ‘Kalyan Mitr’ category.

A Kalyan mitr

  • Loves you unconditionally!
  • Accepts you for what you are, even though they may make suggestions from time to time
  • Does not always agree with you
  • Never thinks twice about arguing with you
  • Feels happiest whenever you succeed, no matter how small or big the success may be
  • Does not compare your life with theirs
  • Does not feel insecure about your friendship
  • Always has an opinion
  • Respects your choices and decisions
  • Encourages you, and never belittles you
  • Is liberal with appreciation and compliments, that matter to you not just superficially but also at a deeper level
  • Never walks out of your life permanently, even though they may temporarily do so
  • Neither judges, nor worries about being judged by you. Are you thinking, ‘friends never judge’? Sorry to disappoint you, but many do!

So, now that you have this checklist, this Friendship Day, along with the usual celebration, do ponder and see if you have at least one Kalyan Mitr in your life; and do express your gratitude to them for being a part of your life and making it so unique. The least you can do is express to them how special they are to you.

And also introspect and see if you are, or can be, a Kalyan Mitr to at least one friend, because you may not necessarily be the Kalyan Mitr of your Kalyan Mitr! Have a great Friendship Weekend.

 

The lesser spoken experiences of Tata Mumbai Marathon

marathon-medalIt’s 10 days since the biggest day for runners! 21st Jan 2018 – the Tata Mumbai Marathon… My first Mumbai Marathon! What an experience it was! Like most of the other runners have already mentioned in their posts, I too thought that it was a brilliantly organized event. Mumbaikars spread throughout the way cheering for us was what made the run even more fun and memorable. In this post, however, I wish to point out something that I have observed in many runs in the past too, and have wanted to write about, but somehow didn’t get down to doing it. However, this time, I just had to!

I wish to write about the runners! So, we did witness some wonderful runners who cheered those who slowed down, helped them get over their cramps and so on. But there was a whole bunch (and quite a huge number; I don’t know whether it would be right to use the word ‘majority’, because I wouldn’t have my numbers in place to prove that) of runners who didn’t really exhibit one of the core attitudes that one would expect in a runner – EMPATHY! It was so disheartening to see runners mindlessly toss about water bottles merely after having a sip, not just on the road throughout the race, but also straight into the sea, while running on the sealink… What was worse is a bed of banana peels for quite a distance, wherever bananas were distributed by considerate residents of a locality.

Being a counselling psychologist by profession, I’d like to highlight the meaning of the word ‘Empathy’, to start with. Empathy means understanding another person’s situation, and knowing what exactly he or she is going through. The other person could be just about anybody – in the event context, a runner, a volunteer, a member of the organizing committee or anyone cheering the runners.  When tossing a bottle about, what one is thinking about is their PB, their convenience, and what one is absolutely not bothered about is the plight of a fellow runner who may trip and have an injury bad enough to make this their last ever run!

It is easy to blame the organizers for not having enough dustbins, but what is difficult is to take responsibility for the event as a participant. Isn’t it the same attitude that we have towards the government – more specifically towards the Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan?!

For someone like me who ran at the lowest possible speed, it seemed like the garbage by all runners is waiting to welcome me at every kilometre. And you know the best part… the dustbins were pretty empty! I would like to clarify that this blog is not written in a fit of anger. However, this definitely is a point that requires attention. Let us all be more mindful as runners and as citizens of the country, striving to imbibe the attitude of empathy, and make the world a better place! 😊

10 things that have made 2017 really memorable!

  1. My Running stint!

Running is not that difficult, after all… from moving from ‘I only walk’, to I run sometimes, to ‘I run 80% of the time’, I have come a long way… And each run, whether at an event or regular training, is an experience that comes with a lesson. I’ll hopefully write about each lesson separately. There were some runs that etched a mark in my mind. Two of the runs in particular taught me lessons that have a direct correlation with life.

Aarey run – my first hill run- taught me: whenever there is an uphill, there will always be a downhill, so whenever you realize that you are having to push yourself really hard, know that the downhill slopes are just around the corner.

Gorai run – my second hill run – taught me: whenever there is an uphill, there isn’t necessarily a downhill. Therefore, have your strategies in place to deal with the unevenness, rather than cribbing that there should have been a balance.

  1. My first Half Marathon

I did my first half marathon this year, at the Indian Navy Half Marathon held at BKC in November. It was an experience that was special, had me feel a number of emotions all through the race, and a feeling of accomplishment and immense joy at the end of it! What an amazing memory!

  1. Singing!

I found The Sunday Jammers – a group that reconnected me to one of my first loves – Music! While I had already come back to the world of singing after hibernating for several years, this group made me look forward to the singing sessions. And practise and attempt songs that I hadn’t sung in the past! And last but not the least, introduced me to a new set of friends that I will treasure for life!

  1. My Youtube Channel dedicated to my vocals

I wished to start my YouTube channel where I upload songs sung by me, at least once a week. And here we are… The channel is up and running, before the end of 2017! The name of my channel is Sushma I R, in case you would like to check it out! 🙂

  1. Fitness

Fitness is an ongoing journey, and there is nothing absolutely earth shattering that I discovered in 2017. But yes, what I did discover is that I have grown fitter mentally and physically with each exercise routine, practise run or run event that I did. Physically, because that is the intent of exercise at the end of the day.. And mentally, because every event came with a set of challenges that I slowly but successfully combated, making me stronger mentally too!

  1. Zumba

It took me a while to decide, whether I wanted the ZIN certification to stay or go.. And I had to admit my love for this fitness form.. The fun and madness is something that is unique to Zumba, which is why I made up my mind.. Zumba will stay. I will continue to be ZIN!

  1. Lokhandwala Running Club

Running also introduced me to a set of wonderful people that come together under the name LRC (Lokhandwala Running Club). They are some of the most amazing, sweet, humble and fun-loving people I have met. I wish I knew them before I got married and moved out of Lokhandwala… Nonetheless, it’s never too late… I look forward to meeting them at their base and at the various events.

 

  1. Plank is not as difficult as I thought it is… Practice is all it takes, to make it happen. I managed to go past 2 minutes of plank!

 

  1. Corporate Counselling

Work-wise, we managed to get a counselling assignment that involves travelling to manufacturing units to offer counselling services to employees. Travelling to far-off places for work is tiring, but extremely satisfying, when you get to see the progress that others are making in their lives

 

  1. Relationships!

Like food, even relationships have a shelf-life. What is important is how special it was while it lasted, and the memories you made, while it lasted. 😊

Dear Zindagi… my two cents

Dear Zindagi, a film made by Gauri Shinde, starring Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan has just released. It is a movie that has been liked by a number of people for a number of reasons – relatability, realness and good performances being a few. One thing that the movie has attempted to do is throw light on the area of counselling and therapy, which is what appealed most to me- it’s my profession, after all!! Showing that it is absolutely fine to seek help to deal with issues that may seem trivial, but could have deeper roots, is a step towards encouraging common man to resort to counselling without a feeling of shame or guilt. The layers uncovered through the sessions have also been showcased in a realistic way, and same goes with the level of professionalism, such as time-adherence etc.

The only thing I didn’t appreciate was the fact that the chair creaked at the end, which meant that SRK, although expressed detachment to the client due to ethics (thank the filmmakers for that!), did emotionally get affected by Alia. What the emotion was is something I choose not to debate about. As a psychologist who meets clients day-in and day-out, this wasn’t a REAL moment. Well, I guess the Bollywood touch had to come in somewhere.

Lastly, although it wasn’t said out blatantly in the film, I would want to tell you that there is a difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist – the former prescribes medicines, the latter specializes in talk-therapy. A psychiatrist who provides counselling and therapy sessions has definitely undertaken additional training to be adept at doing so. I thought it is important to clarify, since I heard an RJ the other day reviewing the film, saying SRK plays a role of psychiatrist, whereas he himself says in the film that he is a psychologist. And the two are different!

To sum up, Dear Zindagi is a great attempt towards diffusing the taboo on therapy and counselling, which, no matter how much we deny, still does exist in the minds of a lot of people today in India.

9 Ways to Master the Skill of Overcoming Laziness

overcoming-lazinessLaziness is something that we all relate to. While many of us tend to feel lazy a lot of times, even the most disciplined and active person does have his/her moments of laziness, where they may just not feel like doing anything.

It is not such a bad idea to laze around at times. However, it can get challenging if we end up doing at the cost of our responsibilities and obligations.

Overcoming laziness is a skill everyone can learn and master. These tips will tell you how:

  1. End-result orientation: Many a times, the process of performing a particular task makes us feel bored and lazy. The more we think about the task, the lazier we feel. However, the idea of seeing the result upon successful completion of the task can be both motivating and satisfying. E.g. cleaning the house may seem boring, but the idea of a neat and tidy house makes us feel good.
  1. Work for just 10 minutes. Most of us who tend to feel lazy usually experience the ‘starting problem’. However, once we get into the groove, we usually pull it off right until the end. So, just tell yourself that you can give up after 10 minutes. Even if you decide to give it up, you have done at least some part of it.
  1. Advantages of completing the task now. List down and remind yourself of the advantages of completing the task right away. E.g. you will get done with it, and will therefore be left with more free time, you will not be bothered about this one task, and can therefore focus on other work, etc. this will make it easier to convince yourself to carry out the task right away.

  2. Disadvantages of delaying the task. This point focuses on motivating yourself to perform the task by reminding yourself of the things that are at stake, or the challenges that you may have to face by putting the work away for another time. Make a big list of everything that could go wrong if you continue to be lazy.

5. Consequences faced in the past. It is quite likely that you may have faced unpleasant consequences because you put away your work on account of boredom and laziness. Remind yourself of these instances. Remember that pain and use it as a driving force.

6. Goals to look forward to. If you feel lazy on a regular basis, maybe your goals aren’t exciting enough. Relook and set goals that keep you on your toes. This motivation will keep laziness at bay.

7. Small and achievable steps. Big tasks can be intimidating and overwhelming. By breaking the big task into smaller tasks, you will take small but definite steps to accomplish it, and therefore not feel bored to work on it.

8. Self-talk. Tell yourself how great it will be to check off the pending tasks on your to-do list. Counter the negative thoughts by repeating positive self-talk statements, such as, ‘I am going to feel so good and relieved once I complete all these tasks’, ‘It is really not such a big deal to complete these tasks if I take them up one after the other’, etc. You will automatically feel the positive energy and motivation.

  1. List of activities for rejuvenation. When you do not have a plan to get out of your laziness and boredom, then you might end up spending hours or even days not feeling motivated and inspired. On the other hand, if you have a list of activities that make you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and happy, your mind is convinced that you have overcome the feeling of laziness, and are now ready to take on the task, full force. Some of these activities include taking a nap, going for a brisk walk, chatting with a friend, etc.

Overcoming the urge to be lazy is a useful life skill that can provide meaningful benefits. Let lazing around be a choice, and not an evil demon that comes in the way of your success. Apply some or all of the techniques listed above to deal effectively with that laziness, that you have been struggling to deal with all this while.

If you wish to get clarity on your goals, and work better on the obstacles coming in the way of your success, I’m just one message away. Drop me a message on LinkedIn, or email me directly on refindyou@gmail.com, and we can schedule a coaching session of 45 minutes, absolutely FREE.

This New Year, gift yourself Coaching

Gift-to-self

Hi there,

As we are two weeks into the new year, I’m sure you have overcome your hangover of the new year parties and started settling into your routine. I hope you have also taken time out to contemplate on your goals for 2016, some new, some unfinished and some to be refurbished since you last set out to achieve them.

There’s one gift you can give yourself this new year, and that is coaching. This is because coaching is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to work closely with someone who’s goal is to see you accomplish your goals.

The coaching process:

Coaching, described in a nutshell, is a 5-step process, which involves:

  • Setting goals,
  • Identifying obstacles that come in the way of achieving these goals,
  • Creating a plan to overcome these obstacles,
  • Executing the plan and achieving the goals,
  • Celebrating success!

The different areas of life where coaching can help you are:

  • Job (e.g. team management, getting recognition)
  • Career (e.g. making a career transition, identifying the right stream)
  • Business (e.g. Starting a business, growing a start-up to the next level)
  • Relationships (e.g. happier marriage, finding the right match)
  • Wellness (e.g. losing weight, managing stress)
  • Self-development (e.g. emotional intelligence, time management)
  • Spirituality (e.g. finding peace and happiness, understanding the greater purpose of life)

The role of the coach:

The coach plays the role of your ally and accountability partner, who celebrates your success, supports you during challenging times and motivates you to push yourself.

A lot of times, the argument that people give is that they do not need a coach, and that they can achieve their goals by themselves. This is definitely possible. However, the reason why working with a coach is a more effective option is because the hustle-bustle of daily life leaves us with either no time, or no energy, or no inclination to work on our dreams, aspirations and goals. The end result? Another year goes past without giving due consideration, thought and action to something that is so important to us.

It’s time to get started!

It’s time to break the monotony this time. Sign up for coaching. This is a gift you deserve. It is one of the rare gifts that is also an investment! 🙂 There are a number of expert coaches out there, waiting to support you in achieving your goals. All you need to do is tell yourself that it is time for you to begin the change process. A beautiful life awaits you.

If you wish to sign up for a free 45 minute coaching session with me, just drop in a comment or email me directly at refindyou@gmail.com.  By the end of the free session, you will definitely have clarity on your goals and the way ahead! And that is better that not starting at all, right?!

So, here’s wishing you an amazing 2016. May you get started and accomplish all that you wish to achieve and much more!

Is it a good idea to look back into our past?

rearview-mirror

 

We often hear learned people saying, “The past is gone, and cannot be undone. Therefore, it is no point thinking about it and wasting time.” While living in the present is the ideal way to be, it is not such a bad idea to look back at the past. Here are four reasons:

1. It helps us learn from our experiences

When we are in the moment, we may be impulsive and emotional. Once the situation is over and done with, we are better equipped to analyse what we did, and how we could have acted in a better way.

  2. It helps us track our progress

Progress means forward or onward movement towards a destination. In order to be able to track progress, there has to be a starting point against which comparisons can be drawn. This starting point is available only in the past. Looking back helps us identify not just how far we have come, but also the pace at which we have made progress.

3. It helps us stay on track

We all have goals that we wish to achieve and dreams that we wish to accomplish. In our day-to-day life struggles, we might find it difficult to stay focused on our goals. When we look back at the past, we can see what has been amiss, and take corrective action so that we can stay on track. This will help us be more objective about reaching our goals.

4. It helps us identify our beliefs and thought patterns, and make necessary changes and modifications

A pattern is defined as a repetition of a design or form. Speaking of behaviour, a pattern is construed as a recurrent way of acting by an individual towards another individual, object or situation. For us to be able to identify any pattern, it is inevitable that we look into the past. Only then is it possible to see a consistent repetition. Thus, patterns of thoughts and behaviours that are helpful can be strengthened and those that are harmful can be broken, only by looking into the past.

It is said very correctly that we can do wonders if we use our past as our teacher, and not as our guide into the future. The latter would mean driving a car forward by only looking into the rear view mirror. However, looking into the rear view mirror once in a while helps us ensure that we are driving safe, and protect us from hindrances like sudden speeding vehicles.

So, let’s remember, revisit and rejoice our past, not regret it!